Tony Reumerman, Trainer and Guide – Asilia Africa
You’re going on Safari, and not sure what to pack. What is essential and what is a waste of space?
Sorting through safari items, especially if one has a 15 kg weight limit on a small plane can be a daunting task, not only for fear of leaving an essential item behind but also for not knowing what will be totally useless on safari.
What To Pack For Your Safari
Let’s work on what is essential in each one of the following categories;
Meds – Anything that you use daily and need for your well-being is essential!
Measure the quantities you require and pack these in. If you suffer from allergies ensure that you bring appropriate medicine with you, as a safari can be dusty in the dry season and full of bugs and pollen in the wet season. Do not disregard health warnings on Malaria – for those of us guides that have had it because of not using prophylaxis – we describe the symptoms as significantly worse than that of a magnificent hangover.
Toiletries – Don’t load huge commercial bottles, they are often way too much for a few weeks and often leak – decanter these into smaller plastic bottles with screw tops that will last for the duration of your safari; same applies to packing small tubes of toothpaste, small hair brushes and small bottles of contact lens fluid as an example.
Our camps also provide shampoo, conditioner, soaps and insect repellant, so you don’t need to worry about bringing any with unless you prefer to use a specific brand.
Clothing – Do some solid research on the seasonal climate of your safari destination – some areas are high altitude and cool to cold in winter, some are low altitude and hot and humid in summer. So what is essential here! 3 changes of shirts, 2 longs and 2 short trousers, a quality fleece and a windbreaker in the winter – try and avoid thick cottons and wools which are way heavier than some of the more modern fabrics. Light thermal underwear works well for winter nights in a tent as a replacement for regular pajamas. Once you know the daily temperature change and rainfall of your destination you’ll be able to work it out.
You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos with people on safari dressed in khakis and muted earthy colours. This is not so that they look the part of a safari chic guest but rather because these colours are the most suitable to wear whilst in the bush for a number of reasons.
– Brighter colours are proven to attract insects.
– The neutral range of colours do not absorb heat as much as darker colours and will keep you cooler.
– Lighter colours also show dirt and dust less.
When it comes to packing, a handy tip to remember is that all of our camps provide a daily laundry service which means you won’t have to pack as much, making it easier to stick to luggage limits. Please note, all laundry in camp is done by hand and dried outdoors, therefore turnaround time is dependant on the weather. Out of respect to local culture and customs, we do not wash underwear. Washing powder is provided in all of our guest rooms should guests wish to wash their own.
Footwear – Unless you’re planning on doing a walking safari and even then, hiking boots are an ‘overkill’. Light synthetic hiking shoes work best as multipurpose safari footwear. Bring sandals with, they’re great for when you’re relaxing back in camp.
Photographic gear, personal gear, and gadgets – now this is where things get tricky.
Do not leave the following behind-
- A small powerful LED flashlight and if you’re a serious boy scout a small compact headlamp
- Enough batteries for your trip or a solar charger for gadgets and cameras
- AC plug point converter to 3 prong square (East Africa)
- A digital SLR or a mirror-less camera with a long lens up to 300mm or more
- A point and shoot camera or smartphone
- Chargers and cables and a backup hard drive for your images
- Lightweight binoculars
- A cheap functional wristwatch with an alarm
- An inconspicuous money belt so you can keep your cash with you.
- Dark Sunglasses
- Antibacterial hand gel – great for toilet stops in the wild
- Lip balm
- SPF 50 Sunblock
- Insect repellent
- A lightweight fabric wide-brimmed hat
- A small lightweight ‘day backpack’ for game drives and walks
- All copies of your travel documents, including travel insurance policy, passport and visa.